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MZ-RH1

(2006)

MZ-RH1, picture by Nick Jarman

The MZ-RH1 was one of the final MiniDisc designs, but arguably one of the best. Rather than allowing the format to disappear quietly with a range of disappointing budget models as they had with the cassette Walkman line, Sony instead created a real masterpiece. Text copyright © Walkman Central. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

The MZ-RH1 was a Hi-MD machine but could also play and record in any of the previous MiniDisc formats. It was primarily intended for use with special 1GB Hi-MD MiniDiscs which could hold up to 34 hours of music at a compression rate of 64Kb/s. For the best quality however recordings could be made in the “PCM” (Pulse Code Modulation) format, uncompressed and the same as Compact Disc. In this mode the 1GB disc would only last for an hour and a half but the sound quality was outstanding. New techniques even improved the quality of recording and playback in the original MiniDisc format, a real bonus for owners of older equipment such as MiniDisc decks for hi-fi systems. Text copyright © Walkman Central. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

The MZ-RH1 could justifiably be called a “universal recording machine”. It could record from a microphone, a line source (radio tuner, tape deck, CD player etc), a digital optical source such as a suitably equipped CD player or digital broadcast receiver or upload content from a computer via a USB connection. It could also play back through headphones, a “line out” connection to an amplifier or upload to a computer, even from older discs that had been recorded on other equipment. Recordings could be made and uploaded in any MiniDisc format or PCM and MP3 material downloaded from a computer could also be replayed. Text copyright © Walkman Central. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

Small details of the machine were not forgotten either, the headphone amplifier for example was a newly developed high resolution digital type that featured extra large coupling capacitors for an improved bass sound. The display, unusually placed on the front of the machine rather than on the top, used OLED technology to provide a crisp bright image without causing excessive battery drain. A back-lit LCD remote control (model RM-MC-38EL) was included which could display such information as artist names and album titles. Text copyright © Walkman Central. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

By the time that the MZ-RH1 appeared, a MiniDisc recorder, however perfect, was of minority interest only. Hard disc and flash memory based digital music players were the dominant formats that consumers wanted, although for certain business and professional applications the superior quality and versatility of the MZ-RH1 was still appreciated. For those in the know it is the true successor to the WM-D6C, an honour indeed. Text copyright © Walkman Central. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.